2013 shortlist announced | World Guide Awards

We had a record-breaking number of nominations for this year’s World Guide Awards...

Hikers. (Dreamstime)

It’s time once again to celebrate the unsung heroes of the travel world: the guides. The Wanderlust World Guide Awards, set up eight years ago in memory of the magazine’s co-founder Paul Morrison, recognises the special people who’ve really made your travels. This year you sent us a record-breaking number of nominations. Shortlisting just nine was tough, but picking a winner will be even harder.

Don Mcfadzien

Where he guides: Antarctica
Booked through: Aurora Expeditions

Experienced, passionate, positive and knowledgeable, former teacher Don McFadzien has been visiting the Antarctic for over ten years. You said he has “boundless patience, good humour and enthusiasm, and managed to keep a very diverse group of passengers very happy”; also, Don makes everyone feel like “they were the most important person on board” and has “excellent knowledge of the wildlife, history and geography of the region.”

Deana Zabaldo

Where she guides: Nepal
Booked through: Mountain Madness

According to her supporters Deana Zabaldo is “a gifted communicator and had great rapport with clients, support staff and locals too – she puts everyone at ease and is a lot of fun!” She’s spent years living in Nepal, and it shows: her “knowledge of Nepal’s culture, language and religion runs deep” and, as well as knowing every inch of trail, she’s “both caring and empathetic.” One client reckons Deana is “truly the model for her profession.”

Carlos Vivar

Where he guides: Guatemala
Booked through: Viaventure

Guatemalan guide Carlos Vivar is inspiring and engaging, with a great sense of humour. He’s popular with locals “everyone seemed to know him and would shake his hand with a smile” and travellers “he is absolutely the best guide I’ve ever had”. There was also praise for his stories (ranging from chicken buses to the Civil War), his commitment to ensuring travellers see the real Guatemala, and his dedication to making sure they were always having a wonderful time.

Hossam Moussa

Where he guides: Egypt
Booked through: Intrepid Travel

Hossam Moussa’s supporters declare that “travelling Egypt with Sam was fantastic.” He’s proud of his nation and has a passion for history, but is equally open to introducing travellers to the Egypt of today – showing sensitivity around cultural issues such as Islam, Middle-Eastern stereotypes and the treatment of women. His supporters describe him as honest and tolerant with “a wonderful sense of humour” and “always genuinely willing to help.”

Carl Meadows

Where he guides: North Korea
Booked through: Regent Holidays

Carl Meadows’ supporters love his ability to build a rapport with anyone (from local guides to staunch independent travellers), his confidence and vast cultural knowledge. One client enthused that Carl has the “perfect temperament – courteous, friendly, helpful and calm under pressure, with a glint of mischief in his eyes too!” They added: “I’m looking forward to booking another trip with Carl – whatever the destination.”

Cathy Harlow

Where she guides: Iceland
Booked through: Discover the World

“I don’t think that there is anything that she doesn’t know about Iceland,” reported one of Cathy Harlow’s enthusiastic supporters; “I assumed she was Icelandic!” raved another. As well as being hugely knowledgeable, Cathy has been described as friendly, welcoming and inclusive. Those who’ve travelled with her praised her unflagging enthusiasm and constant commitment to making sure everyone was getting the most from the trip.

Neil Williams

Where he guides: Central America
Booked through: Tucan Travel

Neil Williams “lives and breathes Central America.” His supporters were impressed by the range of his knowledge – from local dishes to birds, plants, wildlife and Mayan ruins across Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. His supporters describe him as friendly, funny, helpful and patient; they also praised his diplomacy in dealing with the logistics of diverse groups of travellers, calling him “the most awesome tour guide anyone could ever ask for!”

Dario Ghirlanda

Where he guides: Ethiopia
Booked through: Wild Frontiers

Half Italian, half Ethiopian Dario Ghirlanda is fluent in four languages (Ethiopian, English, French and Italian), which means he can help guests understand and interact with local people. Praised for his “easy-going and charming nature”, his knowledge of Ethiopia is “excellent”. One happy traveller loved how Dario drew links between experiences throughout the trip to keep a sense of continuity, and how he “appears to know everything there is to know!”

Bhupendra Sharma

Where he guides: India/Nepal
Booked through: G Adventures

Bhupendra Sharma was awarded Bronze in the 2012 World Guide Awards, and it’s testament to his skills and popularity that he’s made the shortlist again this year. He
is kind, experienced and extremely knowledgeable (“always mentioning extra info to us [which made] the trip more interesting”). As one client noted: “He went out of the way for every person on the trip. He truly cares about everyone’s happiness, and this shows.”

Commended guides...

Congratulations to the following superb guides who also deserve a special mention:

Alex Dai, Wendy Wu Tours (China)
Annelies Hamerlinck, Vamos (Latin America)
Anto Palmer, Tucan Travel (Latin America)
Dheeraj ‘Monty’ Bhatt, Intrepid (India)
Dzung Dang, G Adventures (South-East Asia)
Hanna Naomi Walker, Dragoman (L America)
Jared Shaik, Intrepid Travel (India)
Jean Lionel Pressoir, Lojistik Haiti Tours (Haiti)
Kevin Sanders, GlobeBusters (worldwide)
Nilamon Binthavone, Contiki (Laos)
Rolfe Oostra, 360 Expeditions (worldwide)
Russell Fox, Vagabond Tours (Ireland)

The Wanderlust World Guide Awards 2013 bursaries will be donated by Swarovski Optik; prizes donated by Nomad and Powertraveller.

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